Those who are hostile to revising their beliefs in the face of new information are more likely to hold anti-vaccination sentiments and are less willing to be vaccinated for COVID-19, according to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. The findings provide more evidence of a link between intellectual humility and vaccination attitudes.
“We were interested in this topic due to our past work with intellectual humility’s relationship to vaccine attitudes and intentions regarding the seasonal flu vaccine. We were curious how this relationship might change or stay the same in the context of a novel and unknown virus that has caused a pandemic,” said study authors Ho Phi Huynh and Amy Senger, an associate professor at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and master’s student at Sam Houston State University, respectively.
The study of 351 adult U.S. residents found that people who agreed with statements such as “I am open to revising my important beliefs in the face of new information” and “I am willing to hear others out, even if I disagree with them” were more likely to disagree with statements such as “Vaccines make a lot of money for pharmaceutical companies, but do not do much for regular people” and “Being exposed to diseases naturally is safer for the immune system than being exposed through vaccination.”
In contrast, those who agreed with statements such as “My ideas are usually better than other people’s ideas” and “When someone contradicts my most important beliefs, it feels like a personal attack” were more likely to agree with anti-vaccination sentiments.
The researchers also found that intellectual humility was positively associated with COVID‐19 vaccination intentions. ”Our study shows that the more intellectual humility people have, or the more respectful/open they are to new opinions and to the possibility that their own knowledge can be wrong, the less likely they are to have negative attitudes toward vaccines generally. Additionally, people who possess higher levels of intellectual humility may be more likely to receive a vaccine for COVID-19. Our study demonstrates how intellectual humility could potentially be employed to increase vaccination rates,” Huynh and Senger told PsyPost.
The findings held even after controlling for factors such as socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, age, and political orientation, and the results are in line with previous research that was conducted before the novel coronavirus outbreak.
But the researchers noted that the findings are cross-sectional, meaning they cannot say whether a lack of intellectual humility causes anti-vaccination sentiments. “Future studies should investigate if intellectual humility changes vaccination attitudes and intentions through experiments,” Huynh and Senger said.
The study, “A little shot of humility: Intellectual humility predicts vaccination attitudes and intention to vaccinate against COVID‐19“, was published February 12, 2021.